Category Archives: Prototype

All prototype related subjects

Site seeing – Op till you drop ‘Blue Flag’ edition – August 18

In this post we’ll be looking at blue flags; what they are, what they do and how to model them.


What blue flags are, and what they do

Blue Flags are used in the North American  railroading industry to show that railroad or other personnel are working, on, about, under or between railroad equipment and that the railroad equipment may not be connected to. These signs may be posted at the entry to the track upon which the vehicle sits or may be at, or close to, the railroad equipment itself.

Whoever places the flag is generally the only person that may remove said flag. However anyone from that same ‘craft’ may remove the flag. While this generally applies to railroad mechanical departments many customers have also begun to use the blue flag to ensure that cars loading or unloading have the same level of protection. Railroad crews are so used to dealing with these safety items that ‘everyone’ in the industry understands what their placement on a siding or spur means.

Canadian Pacific’s safety regulations state the following:

12.3.7 Blue flag protection is used to indicate that CP or Contractor Personnel are working on, under or between Railway Equipment and movement of trains or other Railway Equipment is prohibited. Blue flags must not be tampered with or obstructed. Blue flags can only be removed by the person or group of persons who originally applied it. Application, use, and removal of blue flags, when appropriate, may only be done under the authorization and guidance of the Manager in Charge.


Modelling blue flags

Have you considered adding ‘blue flag’ operations on your layout? Adding prototype processes to an operating session provides two important benefits:

  1. It makes the time you spend on the layout more meaningful through the application of, and adherence to the rules, and
  2. It slows down the session and forces you to work in real-time.

Over on the Model Railroad Hobbyist blog of Craig Thomasson he recently described how he builds HO scale blue flags for operations and how they are used on his layout. I found his blog post interesting and think that you might find as interesting and useful as I did.

Resources

If you’ve not met Blue Flags in the operations sense before here are some resources that you might find useful:

Site Seeing – the Switching small customers edition

There was an interesting video posted by Danny Harmon (who goes by the handle of Distant Signal on YouTube).

He focuses on the increasingly rare small switching customer. Once upon a time it was the core of railroading. And while it is harder to find, in some places it can still be found as Danny presents in this video.

Enjoy the video! And if you like Danny’s videos as much as I love his voice then like the video and subscribe to his channel. I have no affiliation with Danny other than as a happy viewer of his content.

Site Seeing – 29 June – A new series from Model Railroader – Taking Care of Business

I’ve been quite hard on model railroader over the years. They’ve been very predatory in their behaviour over the years. I even got a cease and desist letter from them at one point because they thought I’d copied part of their intellectual property when I published a corner layout of my design. After to-ing and fro-ing and a level of “kiss my A##” from me since I was in the right, we’ve gotten along well ever since.

However, I may, and I stress only may, change my point of view if they keep up their new free to watch video venture – Taking Care of business. The basis of the idea is to ride along with a crew (in this video SMS Lines switching the Pureland Industrial Park in Bridgeport, New Jersey) as they go about their day-to-day work. The video was entertaining and informative. My concern is that if it doesn’t stay free I certainly won’t be putting up my money to pay for it. Lots of content providers share similar videos on YouTube and other sharing sites that help me understand as much.

Free is good as in beer, and speech. Hopefully MR keeps this series going as free to watch. There is some really interesting content, good production values and I enjoyed the narrative of the story showing the crew going about all of their tasks during their day.

Resources:

  • Video: To watch the video (while it is still free) head over to Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines | ModelRailroaderVideoPlus.com
  • SMS Rail Lines: SMS Rail Lines restores, maintains and operates many historic Baldwin diesel locomotives (in fact I believe they have the largest fleet of Classic Baldwin’s in North America). It’s a labor of love to keep these rare and historic units in-service for future generations to witness. For more just search “SMS Baldwin” on YouTube.

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Site update – May 23 – TSE Boxcars – additional lading and operation information added

Who says that asking for help doesn’t work?

When I wrote the TSE Boxcars page, about images I took back in 2005 in Austin Texas, I had no idea about the operational nature of the cars. Thanks to Paul, who is familiar with the cars, their loads, and operations I now can share a little more information with you.

This morning (AEST) Paul wrote the following: “Those cars came in empty. We would spot six at a time Balcones Recycling and they would be loaded with waste paper. There was about 30 of these cars that were in captured service. We would send the loaded cars out on the UP. They did not come in loaded with lumber. East end lumber is now long gone, and it has been at least 40 years since they received rail service.

My thanks go out to Paul for sharing his time and knowledge with me. One of the reasons I love the Model Railway community is their willingness to share. Greatest hobby in the world? I’d like to think so.

I’ve updated the page with the information Paul has provided. Good to know finally what they were there for, and the operation cycle they used.

Site seeing – March 06 – Bruce Petty’s Glendale Freight house Module Redux edition

In a post on January 18, 2017 I made mention of Bruce Petty’s excellent module of the end of the Union Pacific’s Glendale Branch and the freight station located there. Bruce’s Module is 5 feet (1500mm) x 18 inches (450mm) but to my eye looks much bigger because of the great use of the space he has made. There is no crowding, no feeling of busyness, only the feeling of a warm summers afternoon in Los Angeles sometime during the 1960s or 1970s. This small scene is evocative and places you immediately in the place and time, even if that is coloured by your chosen time period.

The majority of my layout designs fit into an 8 foot space Bruce’s layout module with the addition of a 3 foot fiddle yard fits right in the space available and would make an excellent display or exhibition layout. More importantly it would fit with any time period from the late 1940s – early 1950s (when I believe that the freight house was built) through to the mid to late 1980s when I believe the freight house fell out of use.

As I said in the previous post I’ve pondered over how to use Bruce’s track plan in other ways. I’ve even worked the design up into a 1/12th scale model to see how it might work. I’ll come back to the alternative in my next post; for now let’s revisit Bruce’s excellent module.

A closer look at Bruce’s module

While this module is a part of Bruce’s larger railroad forming the end of the UP’s Glendale branch it can also stand alone as a layout in its own right. At its heart it is an Inglenook layout. Each of the freight house roads can take two 40 foot boxcars against the dock. For those of you interested in modelling this layout at a later stage it is highly likely that the Freight station never hosted more than 2 x 50 foot boxcars at any one time. If it did so then they would be placed on the right most track with the second car either unloaded directly into trucks as shown in Photo 1 above or set off spot on the left most track and switched out once a suitable space was available at the dock. Lots of switching possibilities here.

Of particular note in the photo above is the connecting piece to the rest of the layout. I like this little yet important touch. The wooden insert which allows the module to join the layout has been disguised as a typical UP/SP bridge. Very smart and ensures that the layout and the module appear to be a single whole and not something that Bruce built later on.

Operation

Operations on this layout would be pretty good too. As we’ve discussed before on the blog Inglenooks are completely prototypical and often used by railroads in tight places. Operating with a locomotive pushing in – pulling out switching focuses on the industry or industries served. The longest track on Bruce’s layout I would use as my switching storage and sorting track. The incoming train pulling outbound cars before spotting them on the long track. Cars would then be switched according to requirement on the remaining two car tracks at the docks. Any cars from those pulled needing to be spotted back at the dock could then be spotted before the locomotive crew pick up the remaining outbound cars and head back across the bridge and back to the yard. And here endeth the session.

Short, clear, easy to achieve, enjoyable and within the 30 minutes to 1 hour per day play time that a small layout should give you. Whether you use a single person (driver/engineer only) or two person (driver/engineer and conductor) crew to do the work the time taken will remain roughly the same. I prefer a two person crew simply because it makes the play time more fun when family or friends get involved.

Hope that this revisit has been of some use. If you like the blog don’t forget to Like and Subscribe. PLease comment if you are looking for more information on layout designs or on the designs I’ve previously posted. And of course take the time to visit the “further reading and resources” links below.

Further Reading and Resources

Site seeing – February 11 – The load of scrap edition

Update and explanation

There has been  a shortage of posts on Andrew’s Trains during February, due to a couple of factors. First and most importantly my eldest is moving to another city and beginning at University. Mum and I have put in a lot of work to get her ready for the transition during January and so far in February. This has included multiple trips back and forth looking for accommodation, signing of leases, paying rent, bond and the government related tasks that need to be done to get your adult life underway. The second reason in my output has been extreme heat events we’ve suffered in regional Victoria over the last couple of weeks. Most homes in town don’t have air conditioning. Ballarat’s climate (being nearly 1500 feet above sea level with usually low humidity) means that apart from a few days each year we don’t need it. However, when the air temperature gets over 35 degrees Celsius (this week over the 40 degree Celsius mark) there is simply nowhere to hide from the heat. February is Victoria’s hottest month and the most dangerous. Enough of all of that for now – on to the modelling.

Site 1: The Design Build Op Blog – Scrap Steel Loads

Image courtesy of designbuildop.hansmanns.org

Mike Weiss, one of the Wheeling Freight Terminal crew members has a very clever method of creating scrap steel loads for gondolas. His approach takes on industry standards, rather than the usual articles in model railroad magazines about making scrap steel loads. Often these articles don’t provide an easy way to remove the loads without a wire loop or hidden magnet. In this article Mike addresses both issues. There is a lot of great information on the blog beyond this post. Take the time to look around. Very well worth the effort.

Site seeing: October 03

I love the size, and the presence that O scale models have. While cruising around on the MRH forum the other day I came across the blog of Jack from France (SVJRR) whose modelling is just outstanding. And so onto today’s site.

Site 1: O scale – Updating some Atlas/Roco cars

Image 1: Jack’s completed rebuild and respray of the Atlas/Roco 1970s Boxcar

Jack, whose English is very good for those who might be worried, steps you through a tutorial on how he updated some of the 1970’s Atlas O Scale cars (actually made by Roco in Europe) into modern-day equivalents.

As I have around 10 of these cars sitting quietly in my stash his tutorial came about at exactly the right time. The work is simple (and not surprisingly mirrors the work I am doing on the Gondola build at the moment.

I know that the cars are not exact matches for specific prototypes, although they are very close, but they allow you to get up and running quickly with little effort beyond grabs, steps and a repaint.

Site seeing: 02 October – the pigs ear from a silk purse edition

EDIT: Not sure what happened to all the text in this post, the problem was on my end obviously! Here’s take two of this post.

Site 1: Athearn BlueBox Gondola Build

I posted back on August 30th about the new models I bought at the Caulfield Exhibition – found in the bargains bin. I found going through the three models that one of them had, after being stored poorly, suffered some pretty nasty damage. There was a wicked bend throughout one side of the casting, and the other side had been sheared fromthe base along most of its length.

But for $10.00AU I am not complaining and aimed to instead see what could be made from the remains of the kit, or if it could be saved (somewhat) and made serviceable.

If you head on over to the build’s main page tomorrow (AEST time) you’ll be able to see part 1 of the build process.

New models – Athearn Blue Box 50′ Gondola

At the recent Caulfield model railway exhibition I managed to find three Athearn 50′ Gondolas (undecorated) for $10.00 each. They came from Casula Hobbies‘ back room clear out pile. These kits may have sat there for a week or ten years; apart from the covered tops being missing they were complete.

My understanding is that these kits are completely freelance, designed by Irv Athearn to fit in the same box as the 40′ box car and use the frame from the 50’ flat car.  This frame also causes a problem in the side of the Gondola should be straight if you use the drop frame.

For my purposes – I really don’t care. They were 10 bucks each, look interesting and will fit in nicely on the layout as end of life cars, specifically in use for scrap loading. Besides which as a mid to late 1970s layout, a riveted car with a worn wooden floor, full of rusty scrap will look really nice.

The interior of the car at the moment is the standard riveted plastic with horrible ejector pin marks (photos will be forthcoming). I do have some wood siding that I’ll use to replace it though.

For this model I’ll make the following changes:

  • Kadee 70-ton Friction bearing trucks with 33″ wheels
  • Metal grabs, stirrups, coupler release lever
  • Extra weight
  • Kadee #58 couplers

The paint scheme: boxcar red with HVL markings. These cars are considered to at the end of their usable life, and as home road cars.

 

Site seeing – August 22nd

Over on Gene’s P48 blog I’ve made mention of the build he’s had going on for some time. In fact the list of articles for the Wilson Reefer build is can be found by following this link to Gene’s website. You can skip to the last part and see the painting directly using the link below.

Site 1: Reefers in Paint

With Gene’s build being complete the paint is now going on. I’ve really enjoyed watching the build and some of the techniques that Gene has used.